Apple shows government-approved apps in iPhone settings in Russia

Illustration for the article titled Apple Caves to Russia and starts showing Russian government approved apps during iPhone setup

Photo: Justin sullivan (fake images)

After allegedly calling the requirements of a new Russian law a Security treatment and threatening to leave the country, Apple relented and decided to let Russia get away with it, saying it would allow users to install government-approved Russian apps during iPhone setup. In recent days, weve I took a first look at how it looks.

Detected by MacRumors, Russian users have started to see a list of Russian app suggestions when setting up a new iPhone. The change was detected the same week a Russian law of 2019 came into force. The law Requires smart devices, for example smart phones, computers, tablets, and smart TVs, bought in Russia to come pre-installed with Russian government-approved apps. Twitter user @KhaosT took a screen recording of the new iPhone setup, which seems pretty normal until you get to the special App Store pop-up window.

“In accordance with Russian legal requirements, please continue to view the applications available for download,” the pop-up reads.

A few seconds later, another screen titled “From the App Store Russian Apps” appear with applications such as Yandex Browser, Yandex.Maps, Yandex.Desk,, ICQ messenger and the social network VK, among others. Users can click the “Get” button to install them. As pointed out MacRumors, thanks to reported agreement between the Russian government and Apple, Installing the apps is optional and they are not pre-installed on the device.

Apple said Reuters This week that even though it was intended to comply with the new law, all applications are reviewed to ensure they comply with the company’s privacy, security and content standards.

The The law was originally approved in 2019, although its implementation was delayed until April of this year. According to ReutersApple “shuffled” before finally agreeing last month to offer a way for users to install government-approved apps during iPhone setups.

Informed MacRumors that Apple would start providing Russian app suggestions on April 1. Additionally, Apple told the outlet that it could add a new section to the App Store that aims to promote Russian apps. However, this does not mean that iPhone users in Russian can only install Russian applications; they can still install applications created by developers in other countries.

Gizmodo reached out to Apple for comment, but did not receive a response prior to press time. We will be sure to update this blog if we hear back.

Russian lawmakers have argued that the law allows the country’s tech companies to be more competitive and also gives Russians a “Right to choose” domestic alternatives. This may not sound so alarming at first, but when you consider the years of effort to better control the Internet, it is clear that it is still another initiative to give control to the government about the online activities of its citizens.

This is not the first time that Apple has decided to give in to demands of the Russian government, and it will probably not be the last. In recent years, stopped offering your gay pride dial for the Apple Watch in Russia and also included Crimea as part of Russia in the Apple Maps application of the country. This is not a policy that applies only to Russia. Apple also has removed all major VPN apps from the App Store in China to comply with Chinese law.


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